The common public perception of public health is that it concerns lifestyle issues such as obesity, tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Whilst these challenges are high profile and well publicised, there are many lesser-known factors that significantly impact on population health and yet do not command the same notoriety.
As part of the health and social care portfolio, Open Forum Events are pleased to be hosting the Public Health: The Unusual Suspects conference. The aim of this meeting is to highlight matters that present considerable public health concern but lack the emphasis on the more conventional subjects.
Public health demands are constantly evolving as society develops and changes through time. Historically, sanitation was a major public health initiative, whilst modern day concerns include evaluating and mitigating the effects of modern technology, such as the use of smartphones and other ICT platforms.
Loneliness and social isolation have now been established as a growing concern in the UK, not only for its devastating impact on individual’s quality of life but also on their health. Poverty is still exerting its negative influence on health throughout society. Children are in danger of malnutrition over school holidays, whilst fuel poverty continues to contribute to excess winter deaths. The impacts of gambling addiction are far wider reaching than most people can imagine and although new legislation has recently been announced, it will remain to be seen if it goes far enough. Connected communities are healthier communities. When the links are broken, health and well-being are compromised. These issues, along with air pollution, shift work, climate change and extreme weather events, are not the obvious choices to appear on a list of public health problems, however, they are all very relevant.
The Public Health: The Unusual Suspects conference will bring together an agenda of expert speakers, who will provide delegates with insight and information on each of the topic areas featured. There will be ample opportunity throughout the day to discuss and debate the issues, engage with speakers and share knowledge and best practice with fellow professionals.
There are many factors that impact on population health, whether is be as a result of lifestyle choice, environmental conditions or societal and economic circumstances. The challenges of public health have evolved throughout time and just as one issue seems to be resolved the next era of societal progression presents new contemporary concerns.
In recent times the emphasis has centred on the lifestyle and behaviour choice issues. Obesity, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse are viewed as major threats to health and there are many programmes in place designed to reduce the problems and support better health. However, underlying the highly publicised risks there exist numerous less conspicuous public health threats.
Loneliness and social isolation are viewed as a major risk to health. A report published in
2017 stated that loneliness was as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The Commission on Loneliness was set up by the late Jo Cox MP and its work is now being supported with the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness. Tracey Crouch regards loneliness, which affects approximately 9 million people of all ages in the UK, as the ‘generational challenge’.
Another report has highlighted the concerns surrounding children’s nutrition during school holidays. Up to 3 million children are at risk of going hungry out of term time, which not only affects their health but also their educational attainment and life chances.
Addiction, such as smoking, drug use and alcohol abuse are all accepted to be detrimental to health. Gambling, however, although still an addiction, is less recognised for its negative health impact, not just for the individual but for their families, friends and the wider community. A recent government crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals has been applied, however, there are calls for more action to be taken such as controlling TV adverts. The DCMS has promised new guidelines for gambling advertising and is committed to supporting the UK’s leading gambling charities.
Connectivity within communities has a fundamental bearing on better health. Having established social networks and physical infrastructure can play a major role in supporting individual and community health and wellbeing. Keeping people connected to resources, which includes other people, is underestimated as a key driver for health promotion.
The connection between shift work and increased health risk has been much debated. A new study has revealed that women who regularly work nights are subject to a 19% higher risk of cancer than those who only work days. Recent research also shows that 25% of UK nurses have a BMI in excess of 30. There are many adverse impacts on health resulting from obesity.
It is estimated that 10% of excess winter deaths are attributed to fuel poverty. Fuel poverty has been on the increase and disproportionally affects poorer households. In 2015, 11% of English households were in fuel poverty, an increase of 0.4% from 2014.
Air pollution is linked to an estimated 40,000 deaths each year. The UK now faces fines from the EU Commission unless it complies with EU air quality laws and addresses the ‘life-threatening’ problem of air pollution.
Staying with environmental issues, climate change and extreme weather events not only can impact on individuals and communities but can also disrupt the provision and delivery of essential healthcare. Both hot and cold weather can lead to excess deaths, whilst the impacts of flooding are far-reaching, particularly on the mental health of those that have been affected.
Join us at Public Health: The Unusual Suspects where investors in public health will come together to learn more about the lower profile issues and gain the knowledge to overcome the challenges that the public health community faces.
While the emphasis continues to focus on the major public health concerns such as tobacco, alcohol and obesity etc, there is numerous low key and under publicised public health issues and challenges that need to be addressed.
Loneliness and social isolation is a significant public health, particularly amongst older people. Identifying and intervening not only improves quality and enjoyment of life, it can improve health and wellbeing and alleviate healthcare needs.
A cross-party UK Inquiry in 2017 concluded in its report. ‘Hungry Holidays’, that more than 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time are at risk of food insecurity during school holiday periods. The report recommends the need for more statutory funding and research into the issue of ‘Holiday Hunger’ which is a stark symptom of child poverty. UK government regions are currently investing £5 million pounds in piloting Holiday Provision projects in Scotland, Wales and England to learn more about what works best to support children and families in their own communities.
Gambling-related harm can have wide-reaching impacts and is a serious public health matter but receives diminished attention compared to more recognised addictions that impact on health. Recent new legislation aims to tackle some of the issues.
Understanding communities as networks of relationships and resources provides us with new ways of thinking about change-making and how best to support people to live healthy, fulfilling lives. This presentation will draw on examples of researching and mobilising local social and resource networks across a range of themes and areas to illustrate key points for policy and practice.
Fuel poverty affects the most vulnerable residents in our communities and can have adverse
impacts on health and well-being. Fuel poverty can lead to cold, damp homes, which may lead to poor health outcomes and increased morbidity and mortality including cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and mental health problems. Fuel poverty has been increasing in recent years. The most recent fuel poverty statistics for England show that in 2015, the proportion of households in England in fuel poverty was 11%, an increase of 0.4% from 2014.
In this extended session we will hear short presentations from our expert speakers about the work they are doing to understand and support the health needs of victims who have experienced harrowing events. Following this, there will be an interactive discussion forum with the delegate audience.
Climate change is traditionally thought to be an environmental issue, however, as extreme weather events increase in both frequency and intensity, it is becoming clear it is unfolding as a ‘public health emergency’.
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If you are awaiting funding you can request us to hold your place today to ensure you do not miss out.
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Air Quality Control Managers
Climate Change Experts
Community Care Leads
Consultants in Public Health
Diabetologists & Endocrinologists
Directors of IT/IS/ICT
Directors of Strategic Development
Directors/Heads of Adult Social Services
Directors/Heads of Assistive Technology/Telecare/Telehealth/eHealth
Directors/Heads of Commissioning/Procurement
Directors/Heads of Integrated Care
Directors/Heads of Policy
Directors/Heads of Public Health
Directors/Heads of/Strategic Leads for Long Term Conditions
Environmental Health Practitioners
Heads of Charities/Third Sector Organisations
Heads of Mental Health
Heads of Technology and Innovation
Heads/Leads Clinical Commissioning Groups
Health and Wellbeing Board Members
Health Improvement Teams
Healthcare Service Managers
Mental Health Teams
Performance/Service Improvement Leads
Personalisation and Control Managers
Senior Environmental Health Practitioners
Service Improvement Managers
Social Care Managers